Is it bad to repeat a Halloween costume you wore two years ago? I’m thinking about going home this week to look for my Morticia Addams costume so I can be her again. Or maybe I’ll just be a zombie school girl since I’ve already got the skirt. Anyway, barely anyone got to see me as Morticia Addams that year because I wasted the night with a certain boy who called me his girlfriend but in reality I barely liked him and it lasted a month before we ended things (he was lowkey abusive so it’s fine).

I find it funny that around this time two years ago I decided to be someone’s girlfriend. I never thought I’d have a “relationship” in high school. My older sister said “you’re supposed to date someone just to date them at your age.” I disagreed then and I disagree with that now. I sure as hell don’t believe every relationship is supposed to lead to marriage however, I want to have deep, warm feelings for the person. I want to feel a connection, and if turns out we’re not meant for each other at least we had that effect on each other at one point, right? Well the “boyfriend” I had two years ago—for now we’ll call him Yellow Paint—did not have that effect on me at all.

I should’ve gone running when we were only in the talking stage. He explained that part of the reason he was ecstatic about seeing me is because it was nice to finally date a “healthy girl” because he’s used to dating “mentally disturbed white girls.” He was narcissistic, and described in great detail how that made him suffer. Hurting people’s feelings and fracturing friendships was common for him, he couldn’t help it: He was a natural jerk. Even though he warned me about these glaring flaws, he seemed sweet and funny enough for my tastes. I didn’t get a chance to to actually experience the pain he causes those who cross his path until it was too late. That’s one of the biggest dangers of rushing into relationship: You don’t get to watch your potential partner being their complete selves; you jump into commitment and have to wait for a soul-crushing bomb, that you didn’t even know existed, to explode.

I started paying attention to how he spoke to me, especially whenever I confided in him. I opened up about feeling freakish and isolated because I’ve never met another girl who has such a severe scoliosis curve, or girls with single dads. His tone sounded like what stubbing your own toe feels like. “Well, you know you’re not the only one who goes through that right?” He even laughed when I told him that sometimes I feel guilty about my mother’s death. What killed me is that when he would complain to me about situations that irked him—such as not having the iPhone he wanted, or his mom not giving him money—I was supposed to be the most sympathetic girl in the world. When I told him it wasn’t that serious he’d get angry.

It was during those conversations that I understood what he really meant when he said he only goes for “mentally disturbed girls.” Not only was his description ableist but it was flat out wrong. What he meant is that he only likes girls who don’t have a strong sense of self, girls whose parents don’t pay much attention to them, who don’t recognize when someone is manipulating them, and trying to make them feel like they’re nothing without him. He was not mature at all: He didn’t have a job and he depended on his mom and grandma for everything. Talking down to his girlfriends was the only time he felt powerful and more mature than someone else.

I broke up with him, but not before doing something equally narcissistic and “conniving woman” esque. He would always talk about the poems he wrote for me. The weekend before I planned the breakup with him I asked him to send me one of those poems, partly so I could see if he really liked me more than I liked him, if there was a chance I could change him into a better person. (That’s never possible, you can’t turn an asshole into a better person through a relationship, don’t try it.) But it was mostly to feel like I had manipulated him into doing something for me. He got excited, said he wanted to write me a brand new poem and that he would email it to me. It was more of a lengthy creative letter than a poem but it was super cheesy in a kind of endearing for-someone-who-I-now-realize-is-abusive way.

I kept the poem in my Google Docs and broke up with him that Tuesday. He was sad for a while. Looking back on it now, I feel bad for stooping to his level, but whatever, mistakes are made at 17, right? He wanted me to be this helpless girl so that he could passive aggressively belittle me. The problem is, I wasn’t that girl and it bothers me that he exploits vulnerable people in order to boost his own ego.

Some good came out of the situation though. I became best friends with the people I met through him, and even though making him write me a poem before I broke up with him was really mean, it still felt good to hurt him, even if it’s nothing close to how he treats other women. That year was hard, and as much as I hated him, I would always read that poem when I was feeling down, to laugh but also be able to say this stupid kid wrote this over-the-top, sloppy love letter to me. I feel like Morticia Addams would’ve done the same. ♦